Sunday, April 21, 2024

Media: Top Hamas leaders to visit Saudi Arabia following Tehran-Riyadh rapprochement

A delegation of the Palestinian Resistance Movement Hamas is set to visit Saudi Arabia, Palestinian media reported, describing it as a major development as Israel’s hopes of forging official ties with Riyadh appear to dwindle further.

For many years, Saudi Arabia’s relationship with Hamas has been cold and tense, and the kingdom even arrested many people with ties to the group, which rules the Gaza Strip.

But following its landmark rapprochement with Iran, Riyadh appeared set to host a high-level delegation including Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh, his deputy Saleh al-Arouri, and the head of the group abroad, Khaled Mashaal.

In 2019, Saudi authorities arrested dozens of “Hamas-linked operatives”, stating that they were threatening the kingdom’s rule.

In recent months, after Hamas leaders sent messages that they would like to mend ties with the kingdom, Saudi Arabia has released many of those detainees, including senior member Mohammad Al-Khodary, who was freed in October.

Last week, US media reported that Saudi Arabia’s interest in establishing diplomatic relations with Israel had cooled in recent months amid ongoing violence in the West Bank.

The US-brokered Abraham Accords saw the kingdom’s neighbors — the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain — establish full diplomatic ties with Israel.

In 2022, hopes for deepening ties with Riyadh peaked when the kingdom allowed Israeli civilian flights to pass over its airspace.

Since the establishment of Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline right-wing government, the Saudis have issued several condemnations against Israel over West Bank settlement expansion, Israeli troops’ attacks against Palestinians, and called comments by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich to “wipe out” the town of Huwara “racist and irresponsible.”

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